There’s nothing more exciting to a teenager than the thought of acquiring their driver’s license and experiencing their first taste of road freedom. However, in order for these spunky future drivers to prepare for the road, the state of Texas requires they abide by the rules of the Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program. Teens between the age of 15 and 17 are required to pass all “levels”of the GDL program. Here is the quick overview of the two stages, ages, and other requirements:
|Learner’s License||Provisional License|
|Minimum Age||Minimum Duration||Supervised Driving Hours||Minimum Age||Nighttime Driving Restrictions||Passenger Restrictions|
|15 yo||6 mo||30 day/ 10 night||16 yr||12am – 5am||No more than 1 under 21|
Phase 1 – Learn & Practice
The first step in the Texas Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program involves enrolling into a driver’s educational class. This can usually be completed as a high school course and started at the age of 14. Once an individual turns 15, they may apply for a learner license or a minor restricted driver license (MRDL) for teens and their families who are experiencing hardships.
The following applies to learner licenses:
- The teen must be at least 15 years old and must have completed driver’s education.
- Requires the teen log 30 hours of daytime driving and 10 hours of nighttime driving before applying for a provisional license.
- Teen must have a learner’s license for at least 6 months before applying for a provisional license
- Requires an adult of at least 21 years of age to be in the front passenger seat of the vehicle at all times while the minor is driving.
To apply for a learner license, the following must be taken to a local driver’s license office:
- Documents verifying identity, citizenship, and residency in the state
- A completed application for TX driver’s license
- A parent or a legal guardian
- A finished Verification of Enrollment and Attendance form (VOE), a high school diploma, or a GED
- An original form that’s signed and proves that the required 32 classroom hours have been completed in a driver training school, public school, or through a Parent-Taught Driver Education program.
Minor Restricted Driver Licenses (MRDL)
A minor restricted driver license (MRDL) is granted to individuals who have a specific need to drive. The state considers the following as hardships that would qualify a teen for an MRDL:
- Failure or refusal to issue a license will result in an unusual economic hardship for the teen’s family.
- The license is necessary because of the illness of a member of the teen’s family and the need to commute in relation to the medical hardships.
- The license is necessary because the teen is enrolled in a vocational education program and requires a driver’s license to participate in it.
The MRDL expires on the teen’s next birthday and is available to teens that are at least 15 years old, are able to prove the existence of a qualifying hardship, have completed the required driver’s education, and can provide all the forms and information needed for a regular learner’s license with the exception of filling out an MRDL application instead of a VOE.
Phase 2 – Practice & Test
When the driver turns 16 years old, they will be able to apply for the provisional license if they are in fact eligible. This license will expire when the driver turns 18. In order to qualify, teens must:
- Have maintained a learner license or a MRDL for at least 6 months and logged a total of 40 hours of driving (30 in the day and 10 at night).
- Have successfully completed the required 44 hours of behind-the-wheel training of driver education in addition to the classroom training received to obtain the learners license or MRDL
- Must have completed the Impact Texas Teen Drivers (ITTD) course
- Taken and successfully passed a driver’s test administered directly by the state or through an authorize school.
It is essential that the Impact Texas Teen Drivers (ITTD) certificate of completion document is provided in addition to the same things needed to apply for a learner license or MRDL listed in the sections above. The provisional license expires when the driver turns 18. From there, the driver can apply for a standard Texas driver’s license.
GDL Saving Lives
Since its implementation, the Graduated Driver License program has helped to reduce crashes amongst teens nationwide. GDL programs are not implemented on a national level but rather on a state level. Each state chooses its own age, time, and educational requirements. As such, there is data to support that states who implement strict GDL requirements see a higher reduction in teen crashes. According to the IIHS, if the state of Texas were to implement the strongest restrictions on 5 components of GDL requirements, they could see a reduction in teen crashes of up to 44%! That means:
- Moving the learners license phase to a minimum age of 16 instead of 15
- Increasing behind-the-wheel practice hours from 44 to 70
- Set earlier nigh time driving restrictions: 8pm instead of midnight
- Moving the provisional license phase to a minimum age of 17 instead of 16
Come on, TxDPS, tighten up on your GDL requirements! Sure you may get a few thousand tweets from hormone-deranged teens with nothing better to do than speed type on their smartphone, but at least less teens will go on their last drive.